Idaho Wolf Kill up in 2006

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The wolf population in the Northern Rockies, livestock losses and the number of wolves killed in control actions all appear to have been higher this year than in 2005.

The numbers were presented at the 2006 annual interagency meeting of state and federal wolf managers in late November.

In 2006, the wolf population in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming is expected to be around 1,264 wolves in 163 or more groups of two or more animals, and 86 or more of those probably will be classified as breeding pairs-an adult male and female raising at least two pups until December 31.

In the three states, livestock losses through late November included 170 cattle, 344 sheep, eight dogs, one horse, one mule and two llamas. Lethal control removed 152 wolves.

In Idaho, about 650 wolves in 70 or more packs, and 41 or more breeding pairs killed 24 cattle, 173 sheep, and four dogs-three hunting hounds and one guard dog. And 35 wolves involved in livestock problems were killed by agents, 7 were killed by producers protecting their stock, and 19 were killed by other causes for a total of 61 wolves killed.

In Montana, about 300 wolves in 59 packs and 25 breeding pairs, killed 35 cattle, 133 sheep, four dogs-two guard dogs and two pets-and two llamas. And 47 wolves were killed.

In Wyoming, (including Yellowstone National Park with about 140 wolves-14 packs and 12 breeding pairs) about 314 wolves in 34 packs and 25 breeding pairs, killed 111 cattle, 38 sheep, one horse and one mule. As a result 44 wolves were killed.

More intensive radio-tracking flights, additional investigations and incidents, and analysis of data in December will be in the final estimates in the 2006 annual report.

On November 29, Wildlife Services conducted two aerial wolf control operations in Idaho. The first was from a helicopter on private land east of Cascade, where two gray, uncollared members of the Gold Fork Pack were killed following earlier depredations on cattle.

The second was on Salmon-Challis National Forest land east of Leadore, where one un-collared adult gray, female wolf was killed following a depredation on cattle that occurred in October.

Wolf control actions, authorized by Fish and Game and carried out by the federal Wildlife Services, do not jeopardize wolf recovery in Idaho.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers the wolf recovered in the northern Rocky Mountains. Federal officials are working on a proposal to remove wolves from the endangered species list in Idaho and Montana separately from Wyoming.

A critic of federal government efforts to reestablish the gray wolf in western states has pleaded guilty to trying to poison the federally protected species, a U.S. prosecutor said December 1. The man planted meatballs laced with a poisonous pesticide in Idaho's remote Salmon-Challis National Forest in 2004 with the aim of killing wolves.

The meatballs instead poisoned a coyote, fox, magpies and three pet dogs, according to court records. He signed a written plea and will be sentenced in early 2007. He faces as much as six months in jail and five years probation and up to $25,000 in fines.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The Fish and Wildlife Service's wolf reports can be viewed at